Home-Made Chunky Dark Chocolate Butter


ChocolateButterDesert

UPC’s Crunchy Dark Chocolate Butter

I love indulging. Some of my favorite indulgences, as we’ve covered here in this blog, are life’s simple pleasures. This is obviously not a complete list, but certainly these items will make the top of my list: chocolate, bacon, chocolate bacon, smoked salmon, good wine, good tequila, good rum, sleeping soundly and waking up refreshed, and staying up all night just to watch the sun rise. As far as I’m concerned, the above list of indulgences should be on EVERYONE’S list! Ok, fine, I’ll give that some people just don’t like salmon. My wife doesn’t like salmon, and smoked salmon is even worse to her. While this is intriguing to me, particularly as a pleasantly munch down on some spicy smoked salmon, and she makes faces at me, I don’t particularly mind. That just means I get to keep it to myself! Fortunately, we share interest enough of our other indulgences that this has never been an issue. So, today’s recipe, hopefully, will become a regular indulgence for you all as it has become for me.

I’ve been working on this recipe for months now, and while you’ll see that it is quite simple, putting the pieces together has been a real challenge! Chocolate is amazing, in all it’s forms. It can be a real challenge to work with, though, because getting your recipe just a little bit wrong can result in it being quite bitter. While I love chocolate, and even really really dark chocolate (I eat the good baking chocolate bars straight – but only the good ones), I don’t love bitter. There are definitely some recipes that bring out the bitter in chocolate more than others. Not this one though. This recipe produces the kind of indulgent decadence that I can really look forward to!

UPC’s Crunchy Dark Chocolate Butter; What you’ll need:

  • ChocolateButterDesert_CocoaNibsAndChocolatePowder1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Carob Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Cocoa Nibs
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 Storage Jar (a nut-butter jar?)

Serves: Umm… Only 1!!! 🙂
Prep time: 10 minutes.

1. Mix the cocoa powder, carob powder, and cocoa nibs thoroughly.

2. Pour the mix into the jar, then add the coconut butter and the coconut oil on top, in that order.

ChocolateButterDesert_PreMixed

As the coconut oil melts, it will loosen up the coconut butter for stirring.

3. Close the jar and place it somewhere warm so that the coconut oil can melt, and the coconut butter will soften.
Note: If you can’t think of a good warm place to put it; you can easily just throw it in the oven on the lowest heat setting for 5-10 minutes.

4. Let it sit until the coconut oil has completely melted, then begin stirring.

ChocolateButterDesert_Mixing

Start to stir after the coconut oil has fully melted.

Serving:

Since it’s warmer now, it’s the optimal time to serve it over your favorite fruit! This will be amazing over nearly any fruit, but particularly strawberries, raspberries, mangoes, and pineapple.
If you’d prefer to eat it in a more solid state, just let it sit at room temperature for a while, then dig in! It will be thick, like coconut oil or macadamia nut butter, and perfect for eating with a spoon!

ChocolateButterDesert_Spread

Freshly made, still warm Crunchy Chocolate Butter over Starfruit!

Questions:

  • Do you like your indulgences?
  • What are your 3 favorite indulgences?
  • If you could take one of your non-food indulgences, and compare it to a food, which food would it be most comparable to?
  • Are there any indulgences that you used to enjoy but don’t anymore?
  • Why don’t you enjoy them anymore?
  • Do you miss them? Or have you replaced them?

What’s For Lunch? Smoked Salmon Bento Box


SalmonBentoBox

UPC’s Smoked Salmon Bento Box

Ok, I’ll admit it… I’m an addict! I’m an unmitigated food addict. It’s always been my “drug of choice,” so to speak, and that hasn’t changed one iota over the years. And I love it!!

“I’m UPC, and I’m an addict.”

“Welcome UPC.”

All jokes (mostly) aside, these Bento-Box lunches have been leaving me seriously looking forward to my lunch every day! It’s not like I don’t normally enjoy my food. Of course I do, it’s made by my favorite chef! No, this is another situation entirely. I thoroughly enjoy the idea of being in a position to easily, painlessly carry a full meal, and a full-looking meal, all the way to work with me to eat at my leisure. It’s truly a delight.

Smoked Salmon Bento-Box; What you’ll need:

  • Smoked Salmon:
  • 12 oz Smoked Salmon
  • 2 oz “Glaze” (Apple Cider Vinegar (or any flavor), Olive Oil, Black Peppercorns, Whole Mustard Seeds; mixed together and soaked for a day)
  • Salad Eggs
  • Salad:
  • Favorite Mixed Greens
  • 1 cup Celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Green Onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 large Avocado, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2
Cook and prep time: 30 minutes

1. Prepare the Salad Eggs. I used ham, basil, and carrots for this Salad Eggs dish.

2. In a pan, sear the smoked salmon on high heat for about 1 minute per side.

3. After turning off the heat, paint the salmon with the glaze, leaving the salmon in the pan so that the glaze can thicken in the heat. Let the salmon sit in the glaze for 2-3 minutes per side.

4. Slice the salmon and put it in the Bento Box.

5. Mix the salad ingredients and add them to the Bento Box.

6. Add the Salad Eggs to the Bento Box. And bring it to work to enjoy!

Questions:

  • What kinds of lunch foods get you excited?
  • Do you ever eat seafood for lunch?
  • Do you prefer smoked salmon, or another preparation method?
  • Do you prefer a different salmon preparation for a different meal? Have you ever thought about it?

Dessert Recipe: Chocolate Raspberry Chia Pudding


ChocolateRaspberryChiaPudding

UPC’s Chocolate Raspberry Chia Pudding

It’s been a while since I did a dessert recipe for you. You’ll have to forgive me to for not putting together very many desserts; I think this may only be the third one I’ve posted. The truth is: I really don’t eat a lot of desserts. 95% of the time, if I’m looking for something to round out my relaxation after a meal, I’ll turn to chocolate or dried mango. Obviously those count as a dessert, but there’s just not much to blog about with those, so I usually focus more on my meals. And since I don’t eat desserts often, I don’t have very much material to share! But that doesn’t mean that the few times I am inspired to whip up something special I won’t take pictures of it and let you all know how to make it work, now does it? So today’s recipe: Chocolate raspberry chia pudding!

ChocolateRaspberryChiaPudding-Stirring

UPC’s Chocolate Raspberry Chia Pudding; What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 pint Organic Raspberries (preferably fresh; but frozen will work)
  • 1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 4 tablespoons Organic Chia Seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Raw Honey
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Water

1. Put the raspberries in a large mixing bowl and mash them thoroughly with a potato masher.

2. Add the chia, coconut water, and honey to the bowl, and continue to mix and mash thoroughly.

3. Finally add the cocoa powder, and stir slowly and thoroughly with a spoon for at least 60 seconds, but up to 2 minutes if you can stand it.

4. Let the mush stand on the counter for 20 minutes, stirring thoroughly every 5 minutes.

5. Transfer the mush to a jar of appropriate size, and put it in the refrigerator for a day. For best results, shake the jar vigorously a few times throughout the day.
Serve and enjoy!

ChocolateRaspberryChiaPudding-Jar

Possible variations:
This will be quite good if you eat it the same day; but far better after a day of sitting. So if you need to make it before dinner to serve after dinner, it will still be just fine!
If you’re interested, you can put a light coating of coconut oil in a cup, pour some of the pudding in, and freeze it for a frozen dessert or an after-workout treat! The coconut oil will make it really easy to pull out, and won’t make it any less delicious.

Questions:

  • What kinds of desserts do you normally eat?
  • Do you make any of your own desserts? Is there a special recipe?
  • How many of your desserts are “multi-purpose” desserts?
  • Would you like to see more UPC desserts?
  • Do you want more pudding? More like the Coconut Delight that I made months ago? Or maybe like the Chocolate Energy Bar that I made as a guest post?

What’s For Dinner? Seafood with Avocado Sauce, Olives, and Roasted Carrots


SeafoodWithAvocadoSauce

A few personal updates, just to keep you all up to date with my life. The goslings on the run to work are getting a bit older. They are adorable! And they litter the walkway that I run on with their droppings – and it’s annoying! With running in mind: I am still running to work! As I was hoping would happen, the “summer mornings” settled in and the brief period in the morning is still tolerable for a jog to the ferry. It’s been in the high 60’s and humid enough to keep my face nice and cool – which does help keep my body temperature manageable. And I didn’t feel like making lunch this morning. I know, shocking right?! My wife was shocked too! I still did breakfast, as usual, but I just wasn’t inspired to cook up anything for lunch… I don’t know why. Maybe I’m tired?

Scallops, Calamari, and Shrimp with Avocado Sauce; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb of Assorted Seafood (obviously, wild-caught if possible)
  • 2 large Avocados, mashed
  • 4 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • Marjoram, Cumin, and Sea Salt to taste
  • Chopped or Baby Carrots
  • Green Olives

Start the seafood in a pan on high with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. There is a lot of water in seafood, so you don’t need much oil to really get the cooking started – and once it’s started, the water in the seafood will keep the pan moist enough on it’s own. This is especially true if you’re using frozen seafood, as I most often do. Stir this regularly, and remove from the heat about 1 minute after it starts to sizzle. This usually takes about 10 minutes on my stove.
Cooking “seafood” but not fish is quite easy, in my opinion. It doesn’t take long, so there’s no need for over-preparation. It tastes amazing when it’s cooked in coconut oil, so there’s no need for anything more elaborate than that. Ultimately, keep it as simple as possible, and spice lightly.

Once the seafood is cooking, start preparing the other ingredients. In another pan add the carrots with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Cook these on medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally. These will be ready to eat once the seafood is ready.

After getting the cooking stuff all started, turn your attention to the Avocado sauce. Cut up the avocados and put them in a mixing bowl with the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and the spices. Mush these down and stir it up until you have a semi-liquid sauce, well spiced. Make sure to taste this regularly – it takes a lot of taste testing to get the flavor just right. And besides: who would want to miss the taste testing?!
Serve the sauce on the seafood. This is probably the most important part of the meal prep! The seafood is good. But you’ve had that before, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve had it recently. But the seafood with the sauce? Now that’s something new and exciting – don’t miss it!

Questions:

  • What are your favorite sauces?
  • Do you serve them on the meal, or on the side? Why?
  • Do you know how to make the sauce? Or is this something that you would like to see recreated – and shared with you?

What’s For Breakfast? Celery Scrambled Eggs, Avocado, Papaya


CaribbeanBreakfast

Papaya, Eggs and Avocado. It’s the Urban Paleo Chef’s Paleo Digestion Meal!

Another of my Colombia meals, here is one of the breakfasts that I put together while I was there. I always try and get accommodations with a kitchen. That can turn a $1000 dollar food budget for vacation in to a $300 food budget for vacation, making big changes in the number of trips that I can afford to take each year. Then I can go out to some of the slightly more expensive restaurants and enjoy myself, the top quality foods they serve, and not be panicked that I will run out of budget for my other meals.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup sliced Celery
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 cups sliced Papaya (fresh)
  • 1 large sliced Avocado

I love eggs. They’re a great source of quality cholesterol, valuable fats, and some great protein. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals that come with them. The eggs in Colombia were amazing! They had the most incredible orange coloring, like I wrote about in my “Are All Eggs Created Equal?” post a few months ago, indicating a very high quality egg. The extra orange coloring, as opposed to the dull-yellow that we see here in the US, indicates that the chickens were fed their natural diet of bugs, grubs, grass and seeds from foraging in a farm yard. A very nutritious diet for a chicken, and the diet necessary to produce the top quality eggs that have the bright orange colored yolk.

The fruits of Colombia are incredible! Walking down the fruit isles in Colombia is an eye-opening experience. Most of the street vendors have more varieties of fruits available than the best grocery stores here in the US. And the grocery stores in Colombia had several isles, filled with fruits which I had never seen before. I never even imagined the kinds of variety, and freshness, that the fruits could have! It was absolutely amazing!
I did a little of “try something new” and I worked a bit with the old stand by foods as well. I ate quite a bit of Avocado. And while that’s nothing new for me, it is most definitely a local food, and much more fresh and delicious there than I have had here. Similarly, papaya is a familiar food for me, but it was so fresh I thought it had been picked off a tree outside the store when I bought it. I brought it home and opened it up immediately.

I’ll do a post on the fruits of Colombia tomorrow. But for today, enjoy my breakfast!

Questions:

  • What are your favorite breakfast foods?
  • What are your most frequent breakfast foods?
  • What breakfast foods do you look for, make, or prefer when you’re traveling?

What’s For Breakfast? – Salad with Bone Broth Dressing


BoneBrothBreakfastSalad

I’m worried that the heat outside is getting high enough that I’ll have to stop running to work in the mornings. I can handle getting a little bit sweaty – a little bit. But if I’m still wiping sweat off my brow by the time I walk on to my floor at work, that’s more sweaty than I want to be at work. It’s not the perception that I want to be giving off – and it really doesn’t go well with a suit! Hopefully the mornings will stay crisp for a while longer; but the days are heating up and I’m worried.
On the plus side: the weather is great! I’ve really been enjoying my mid-day workouts on the weekends in the full sun, with green grass under my bare feet! It’s been keeping the smile on my face!

Breakfast Salad, Home-Made Bone Broth Dressing, and What you’ll need:

  • Breakfast Salad:
  • Mixed Greens (Mine is mostly arugula, with some “spring mix” added in)
  • 8 ounces Roasted Turkey cold cuts (absolutely no nitrates/nitrites!)
  • 1 Carrot, sliced
  • 2 small Zucchini, sliced
  • 1 Avocado, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Flax Seed
  • Bone Broth Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons Bone Broth (since mine is home-made, it’s extra thick)
  • 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (organic, unfiltered)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2

I am a huge fan of arugula. There is something about the flavor, the crispness, the texture. I have a good friend who would argue (and I can’t refute it…) that because I am Italian, it’s simply cultural heritage. Obviously, that’s fine; either way, I really love arugula. Lately, I’ve been adding either flax seed or sliced almonds to my salads. The extra nutty flavor that they both add to the salads has been great – you can never have enough nutty in your life! And I’ve really been enjoying the increased metabolism effect that they’ve been having on me.

And finally: when I’m showcasing a flavor other than a meat, I always try to use a mild flavored meat in the salad. That’s the reason I chose the turkey for this salad. Alternatively, I might choose a strong flavored meat, with a complimentary flavor. For example: in a “Smokey Salad” I could use bacon or any other smoked meat product (I regularly buy a great smoked turkey). But when the flavor I’m most keen on is the dressing, then I’ll use a more subtle meat, like roast turkey or roast chicken, so that the dressing will be the leading flavor in the meal.

Bone Broth Dressing:

I just finished making my latest batch of bone broth. I really enjoy the multitude of ways that I use bone broth, including adding it to my eggs, salad dressings, and even sometimes as an additional flavor for meat that I’m cooking. Because I make it myself, I have control over the consistency of the finished product, and I always make it extra thick. I find that it’s quite easy, in the moment, to dilute it for a more liquid purpose like a salad dressing. But that it’s very difficult to thicken it when that’s what you want to do, like adding it to a hand-made burger.

So add 2 tablespoons of the thick home-made bone broth to a bowl, add the cider vinegar and olive oil, and mix thoroughly. Because the bone broth is thick, mixing takes a few moments. The flavor is quite excellent as a salad dressing. Here’s a little trick I use in my salads: I pour the dressing in to the salad before mixing, and make sure that the mushrooms are on the very top of the salad. I do this because the mushrooms absorb the flavors the fastest, and I find that I like the salad flavor the best when the mushrooms are carrying the flavor. It’s a really great way to preserve the flavor of the dressing through mixing.
So I gave the dressing a quick taste before adding it to the salad. It was really quite excellent. The rich, thick flavor of the bone broth combine very nicely with the apple cider vinegar, offsetting the otherwise quite sharp flavor that the cider vinegar might have. And the olive oil smoothed any of the rough edges remaining over perfectly. It was quite delicious! If I were not Paleo, I might add just a bit of grated Parmesan to the dressing, and it would be just perfect. And even without the Parmesan, the flavor is quite pleasant, and perfect for a salad.

Questions:

I’ve made a few home-made dressings on the site: today’s Bone Broth dressing, as well as an Avocado Dressing, and even the “Awesomesauce” that I posted as a guest post recently.

  • Which dressings do you like the most?
  • What ingredients do you prefer in those dressings?
  • If you could change the ingredients slightly, what would you add/subtract from your favorite dressing?
  • What dressings are you willing to make for yourself?

What’s For Dinner? Ground Beef, Sauteed Bella Mushrooms, And Bacon Mashed Sweet Potatoes


GroundBeefBaconMash

My legs are a bit sore from the triple-workout day-and-a-half I pulled off on Tuesday/Wednesday. It’s a good sore! I like feeling like I accomplished something, and that mild residual soreness 2 days after a tough workout is a great way to know that you’ve put together a solid workout! The keyword, of course, is “mild” when talking about the post-workout soreness – if it’s a sharp soreness, you may have overdone it. To make sure that I’m ready for a great weekend, I’m going to get in a decent workout this evening, and have a great meal when I get in tonight!

What you’ll need:

  • Beef and Simple Cilantro Sauce:
  • 1 lb Grass-fed Ground Beef
  • Italian Seasoning, Salt, and Pepper
  • 1 bunch Cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 can Coconut Cream
  • 1-inch Ginger
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Sauteed Bella Mushrooms:
  • 6-8 ounces Crimini Mushrooms (also known as Baby Bella)
  • Rosemary (fresh is best, dried will be fine)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut oil
  • Bacon Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
  • 1/2 lb Bacon, crumbled
  • 2 medium Sweet Potatoes
  • 1-inch Ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Butter (or 4 tbsp Coconut cream)

Prep and Cook Time: About 1 hour
Serves: 2, with some leftovers

BaconYamMashHalfWayStart with the Sweet Potatoes – they take the longest to cook. Chop these up in to 1/2 cubes, or so, and drop them in a pot to boil. Add water to the pot until it covers the sweet potatoes, then set it to boil. Keep an eye on the pot, and stir it occasionally until the sweet potato chunks start to fall apart in the pot. Hopefully that will start to happen at about 15 minutes before dinner time.

CilantroSauceBlendWhile the potatoes are boiling, make the cilantro sauce. First wash the cilantro – this usually does not come pre-washed, and I think it’s better that way! Next chop the cilantro, garlic, and ginger. Throw it all in a blender with the rest of the ingredients, and blend thoroughly until the color is mostly uniform. Some recipes call for using only the cilantro leaves, but I think the stems have a lot of flavor – so I use the whole bunch. As this is fully blended, give it a taste and decide whether it needs just a bit of salt or not. Remember, though, that you’re also likely to salt the beef while you cook that, so don’t overdo the salt in the sauce! Once this is done and ready, stick it in the refrigerator to cool while you’re making the rest of dinner.

About 20 minutes before the meal, you’ll want to start cooking both the beef, the mushrooms, and the bacon. I hope it’s not necessary to say this, but these should be cooked in different pans. Go ahead and season the beef and mushrooms now too, so that the seasoning has a chance to cook in. I would suggest cooking the bacon on high heat, so that it cooks fast, and gets nice and crispy! I find that crispy bacon is easiest to crumble. And remember to stir the beef and mushrooms regularly. As a note: depending on your stove, you may decide it’s best to cook the beef and mushrooms together. This is a fine, and quite delicious alternative way to make this meal. Some of the time, that’s exactly what I do. But some times I just want to enjoy the singular flavor of the cooked mushrooms – they really can be quite delicious on their own!

Once the beef and bacon are started, it’s time to turn your attention back to the sweet potato mash. At this point, the water should be almost entirely boiled off, and the sweet potatoes should be disintegrating in the pot. If you’ve timed it right, it should be about 15 minutes before dinner time, and the sweet potatoes should be ready for a quick mashing, before being set aside for serving. Add the coconut butter or cream, and start mashing! I always use a hand-masher, but I understand that a food processor works quite well for this too. Don’t forget to stir the beef and mushrooms.

BaconYamMashAlmostDoneAs the bacon is done, pull it out of the pan, dry it on a paper bag, and crumble it. I really like using a paper bag for two reasons. First, a lot of the grocery stores I shop at give them instead of plastic for my groceries, so I always have a few on hand, and I would much prefer to re-use these than to throw away a paper towel! Second, the paper bag is extra convenient because it is strong enough to allow you to use it (getting now three uses out of the same bag!) to crush the bacon after you’ve dried the bacon in the bag. It works great! Give a quick stir to the beef and mushrooms too.

Serving:

If you’ve timed things right, everything should be finished up at just about the same time! The bacon should be ready to be sprinkled on top of the mashed sweet potatoes. The beef should be just about done, and ready to serve. Serve the mushrooms first, if you did not combine them with the beef. The sweet potato is plated next. If you elected (great for family-style meals) to bring the sweet potato and bacon to the table separately, just make sure that the bacon is sprinkled on top of the sweet potato after serving. Finally, serve the beef, drizzling the cilantro sauce across the top of the beef. This sauce will be delicious with the mushrooms too, so if you have extra, it’s ok to serve a bit on the plate to dip the mushrooms in as you eat them. Or save the extra for a dip and veggies mid-day snack tomorrow!

And enjoy!